Orji Uchenna Orji
The recent poverty and inequality index credited to National Bureau on Statistics (NBS) has become a safe heaven for critics whose psychologies and mental faculties are nothing but hollow biological membrane dominated and controlled by miopic sentiments, induced by hate and jealousy.
I have read about the thoughts and wishes they share and their conclusions and I have no choice than to describe it as a fulfilment of the saying that ‘from the aboundance of the heart the mouth speaketh’.Unfortunately, ‘if wishes were horses,beggars might ride’
For those that care to know, the concept of poverty index depends on your conception and perception. There are so many indices for the determination of economic development. and it depends on the parameters used; If you use the variables inclusively or exclusively , it will lead to varied outcomes. It must be noted that poverty index is a microcosm of the macrocosm of Economic Development index. Poverty index is an element in the plethora of economic indices.But the standards, parameters and yardsticks for the assessment of Economic Development are many and mutually inclusive.
While in our vision as a State, we are looking at Economic Development indicators such as per capital income, security, mortality ratio, education empowerment including women mainstreaming, infrastructure and environment, the Yardstick used by NBS is consumption expenditures.A look at their survey methodology shows that NBS used Nigerian Living Standard Survey ( NLSS) concept which has to do with measuring living standard using Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAP) soft ware on tablet device.
The survey is obviously not a perfect model or empirical methodology for the determination of actual Economic Development of a state or country. At best, I describe it as a neocolonial model for Africa where questionnaires are used on trial and error basis to determine the consumption expenditures of house holds.
For instance, the basis of using NLSS by NBS is that ‘practically, the calculation of consumption expenditures has an advantage of being comparatively EASIER TO CALCULATE, since house hold income may come from multiple sources, accross different seasons. But more importantly, house holds rarely report income with an acceptable degree of accuracy, possibly because of concerns of tax implications or privacy’.’ NBS ‘ interpretes poverty line as the monetary value of the food and non food expenditures needed for an individual to achieve a basic level of welfare’ This is indeed revealing.
Let me state that while the outcome of the NBS statistics may have been dependent on few but generalized survey made on low income earners who are inevitably present in fast developing states like ours, it is very rational to submit that if the National Bureau of Statistics had depended on the ideal indicators of economic development like health, education, per-capita income, security, empowerment, environment and Infrastructure, for its report as used in advanced economies, the status of Ebonyi State under His Excellency Engr Chief David Nweze Umahi FNSE FNATE would have beaten all positive contemporary economic records
But since they depended on a sit- at -office computer survey on consumption expenditures by households and housing patterns which have no empirical formula for objective assessment, I want to assure them that in no distant time, they will witness a tremendous and overwhelming human transformation that cannot be faulted by even the laziest analysts
The Governor of Ebonyi State,His Excellency Engr Chief David Nweze Umahi FNSE FNATE is not distracted in his determination to delist the state from the map of the third world states of the world which Africa belongs. Already, Ebonyi State is an emerging economy
Now when you come to Ebonyi State, if you talk about human capital development and standard of living of the people, the State is making a great progress, courtesy of the Administration of Chief Engr David Umahi. The Governor is inspired by the mission to enhance the welfare of Ebonyi people and Empower all Ebonyians to be Self Reliant through the Compassionate Delivery of Transparent and God Fearing Governance based on Integrity and Dignity. In response to the wake up call by World Bank and International Monetary Fund for the priotization of Human Capital Development, he is the first to create the Ministry of Human Capital Development. I can’t remember any State that has such a Ministry. He also established Institutions that will enhance human development and sustain it beyond regimes.
The Vocational College, King David Gifted Academy , the Agriculture Vocational Institute and the Adult Education which the Givernor established are geared towards raising capacities and competencies of Artisans, Technicians, Craftsmen, and Entrepreneurs in order to lift the per capital income of the citizenry.
The Governor sees the Empowerment of youths, women, widows, farmers entrepreneurs and indeed people of different shades of trades in the context of mental financial, moral, psychological and social Empowerment, including efficacious nutritions to our pupils for the development of their brains.
The Governor has trained and empowered 3000 youths and women through financial grant of N750m; 4300 widows with grant of N400,300,000; 400 Tricycles worth over N260m for the low class youths and women ; 520 Ebonyians hawking in Lagos received a total grant of N130m,140 Ebonyians in Onitsha received 140 tricycles, 403 wives of security officials received N80,600,000 grant, Clergy men and women received N500,800,000 grant to go into Agriculture under second address scheme , over 96 Sienna buses given to farmers free of charge for the evacuation of their agricultural produce; N4 billion facility to the Civil Servants in the State, Empowerment of 53,000 farmers annually, Empowerment of 140 autonomous communities with N10 m each, 1st State to go into Electric Automobile and empowered over 50 Ebonyi women with electric tricycles, training and retraining of the workforce and entrepreneurs. Ministry of Business Development has been created for this purpose.
If you come to the area of Health, the World Bank’s State of States edition of 2019 sampled the Infanct and Maternal Mortality Rate of all the states, and that of Nigerian Federation, and it is gratifying to mention that Ebonyi State ‘ is better than average when it comes to Infanct and Maternal Mortality with 47 Infanct Deaths per 10000 live births and 126 Maternal deaths per 100,000 births.’ According to World Bank ‘ this favourable metrics correlate with above- average use of skilled birth attendants in the state. Ebonyi State has comprehensive functional primary, secondary and tertiary health care systems with Primary Health Care in each of the 171 wards, 13 General Hospitals, and solid tertiary establishments like the School of Nursing & Midwifery, School of Health Technology , state teaching hospital, Lasser Fever Treatment Centre, emergency health centre and Coronavirus Treatment Centre.
In Education sector, the Nigerian Universities Commission, NUC in 2017, upheld Ebonyi as a state that produced the best JAMB Candidate in Medicine and Surgery that gained admission into the University in the year under review and that is under the leadership of His Excellency Engr Chief David Nweze Umahi FNSE FNATE. In the same 2017, the same NUC sampled the Local Government Area in the country out of the 774 Local Government Areas that had the highest number of enrollment into the University; the outcome has it that Ebonyi State produced the LGA that ranked first. This is under the Administration of Engr David Umahi. WAEC on its part had its Education index analysis in 2017 and outcomes show that Ebonyi State is one of the 10 best States in WAEC Performance. As a Presidential Nominee to WAEC in 2014 ,I can tell you that Ebonyi State was at the bottom of the ladder before the coming on board of His Excellency Engr Umahi. That WAEC index has continued to be in favour of Ebonyi state till today. Besides, school enrollment at the primary and secondary increased astronomically under Governor Umahi. School drop out and street hawking reduced extremely
In the area of Infrastructure and environment, I can say authoritatively that Ebonyi State is the Dubai of Nigeria . Actually one of the twin bedrocks of economic development is Infrastructure as well and Environment. This is because they attract industrialization, Entrepreneurship, and private sector driven economy.
Without boring you with the mention of plethora of projects which enemies could not resist the temptation of applauding, it is remarkable to mention that Ebonyi State has 12 flyovers with double lane each all of which will be completed before long, 13 mordern flyovers including Africa’s biggest flyover, a four -way light tunnel called President Muhammadu Buhari that is the most beautiful and and biggest in Africa, shopping mall with over 3,000 morden shops, multifunctional Ecumenical Centre biggest ever built by a Government in Nigeria ,
Road concept of concrete pavement of 8 inches thickness with 50 years guarantee, Road network that is available in all nooks and crannies of the State. You need to come and see for your self. Commercial activities are getting on with the construction and completion of Magret Umahi International Market housing over 5,000 shops biggest in the South East and one of the best in Nigeria, Airport that is fashioned after Lagos and Abj, sitting on 4× 4 km land with 3.5 km runway targeted at spinning the revenue profile of Ebonyi State like Ethiopian Air business, Staduim that will promote the tourism potentials of the state.
Let me stop here by telling you that if you Google the map of Africa, you will see Ebonyi State conspicuously shinning as a state that has 6pm to 6am nonstop street light. I mean NON STOP.
IN Agriculture, we have so many agro Industries. We have the biggest rice milling cluster in Africa. We have Govennment procured rice milling industry with a total capacity of 24 metric tones per hour and a total of 32 metric tone capacity parboilers. We have 3 number 5 tone capacity cassava starch plant and one number 5 tone- capacity cassava flour plant. We have additional 40 tone- capacity fertilizer plant procured by the Governor in addition to the 40 -tone rehabilitated blending plant all to provide the agro processing needs of the people of the South East.All of these projects are targeted at job and wealth creation and employment for the teaming population.
Finally Ebonyi State has the best security profile. This is because of the security architecture embedded in a form of social security system whereby Ebonyi State is like a construction site where every on is engaged.
I would want to use this opportunity to urge NBC to be much more thorough and look at the various indicators of economic development.
That is the way to go. In Ebonyi State, we are in a hurry to move away from the map of the third world states to a first world state.
We are not greedy. So, if NBS is looking at cheap labour, they should know that China has the cheapest labour in the world. Does that make China’s economy the worst? And so I’m thinking they should have an advanced approach that will be favourable to Africa.
Let me at this juncture mention that some idle minds are saying that Ebonyi State is owing just because they are overwhelmed by the kind of projects they are seeing.Let them stop deceiving people because even the blind has seen the Divine Actualizations recorded in Ebonyi State under the administration of Governor Umahi. It is awesome; it’s amazing. The Governor has a bold space in the World Leadership Hall of Fame.
To God be the glory.
Hon. Barr. Orji Uchenna Orji ( Commissioner for Information and State Orientation and Ag Commissioner Human Capital Development and Monitoring Ebonyi State)